on a day when
I was feeling very sorry
disgruntled and betrayed
like a hymn dispersed
in a squall
and the word resilience
on the radio
as if it did not predict
a future just like the present
cyphers and signals
pointing to same old same old same
old abuse of terms
I could imagine a whole new life
just not mine
what is it about
the aura of appalling changes
of backbones shrinking, aches
all over, lovers forgotten
how once I enjoyed beer
and sex and narcissism
but now, I imagine a whole new advent
uprising from molt and ashes
and I will be still as a signpost
I've been sending out my manuscript Slight Faith for two years now, adding to it, subtracting, rearranging the poems like furniture in a cave, trying to say what I need to say, and hoping with slight faith that someone will fall in love with it and publish it. Trying to be patient. Practicing forbearance. Meanwhile, I wonder if we are ever able to communicate our most intimate understandings. And I suspect the test of success is not in publication, but in some deeper satisfaction of intimacy that I believe (and perhaps this is the crux of my problem) is mythic and unreachable.
Faith is the slight stalk clutching tight the baby tooth
to its root. If it won’t let go, a father might tie a string
and slam the door. A mother might calmly let it fall
among the bedclothes while the child sleeps. Some
find coin beneath a pillow once it is gone.
But what is it that promises another truth will descend
from a hollow mouth to fill the socket?
Most days, I no longer long
for you. The rain has become
my welcome mat.
I soak clothes and skin in it,
bleach these personal stains,
staunch my body's needs.
Nowhere is it fully documented
how terrifying it is to be me.
I dream in haiku
as it taps at my window
in tart syllables.
from Mean Distance from the Sun, Aldrich Press, 2013
Here’s a story of a short-lived friendship with a girl named Debbie. Her family was poor and Catholic, mine lower middle class and Jewish. I’m not even sure how we became friends, I don’t remember her as a school mate, what I do remember is a tin of lard on her kitchen counter. She wet the bed at a sleepover at my house and my mother was very kind, but I was embarrassed for her. Still, she was droll and already edgy at ten and we spent one summer hanging out together. Parents generally left kids to our own devices in those days. We rode our bikes, hung out at a funky gas station where guys would tease us, and where, if we had quarters, we bought an Orange Crush from the soda machine and shared it. In DC, we could catch a city bus and go anywhere; kids’ fare was 10 cents. We went to the Washington monument, called it “the pencil” and climbed to the top to look out over the city. Once we went to the zoo, didn’t have money to go through the gate, so snuck under a fence. One day we went to the National Cathedral where Debbie crossed herself and then proceeded to show me how to take incense sticks and coax dollar bills out of the donation boxes on the walls. Later that evening, her dad drove me home. Debbie and I sat close together in the back seat undoubtedly holding hands and giggling. I remember a hole in the car’s floorboard, near where my feet dangled. I said, “you owe me five dollars” and then we talked about other things. When the car stopped at my house, her dad fished 5 single bills out of his pocket and handed them to me, clearly not happy about it. I didn’t know him well, and this may have been unfair, but I imagined that Debbie got a whipping that night. We didn’t see each other again after that. I knew enough to feel bad about it, but she just couldn’t afford to be friends with me.
Tectonic Summary (October 26th 2015)
7.5 earthquake below
the Hindu Kush Range:
result of reverse faulting.
Focal mechanisms indicate rupture:
either a near-vertical reverse fault
or a shallowly dipping thrust fault.
Collision causes uplift:
direct result of convergence
between India and Eurasia plates.
Intermediate quakes (depth 70 to 300 km):
2002 landslides caused 150 fatalities,
destruction of over 400 houses.
Seismicity in the hazardous Himalaya:
continental collision converging,
relative rate of 40-50 mm/yr.
Yarlung-Zangbo Suture (to the north)
and Main Frontal Thrust (to the south):
This region has the highest rates of seismicity
The largest recorded Himalaya earthquake:
15th August 1950 in Assam, strike-slip,
widely felt in central Asia, extensive damage.
Collective faults, crustal shortening, ongoing
collision, thrust faults, north south compression,
normal and strike-slip, east-west extension.
The active, left-lateral, strike-slip Chaman fault:
fastest moving in the region. In 1505, a segment
near Kabul ruptured: widespread destruction.
Shallow crustal earthquakes also occur
near the Main Pamir Thrust and other
active Quaternary faults.
Also within the Indo-Burmese Arc:
combination of strike-slip and reverse faults;
Sagaing, Kabaw and Dauki.
An interesting word, sufferance. Its origin is thought to be the Latin sufferre or the Anglo-Norman French suffraunce. Certainly has something to do with suffering, which is defined as a state of undergoing pain, distress, or hardship. In the context of sufferance, suffering might be thought of as tolerating or not objecting to a hardship or source of pain. I'm not sure what to do about suffering, so today, I'm thinking about sufferance. Here are some usages, ordinary as well as iconic, of the word. Anyway, I liked the icons.
Sufferance is defined as an absence of objection rather than genuine approval; toleration.
Tenancy at sufferance occurs when a tenant continues to retain possession of land or dwelling without the landlord's consent after expiration of the lease. It ends when the tenant is evicted.
Sufferance warehouses are licensed by the Canadian Border Security Agency for the short-term storage and examination of imported goods not yet released by the CBSA .
Psychotic Sufferance is a rock band from Malaysia formed in 1990.
Pauldrons of Sufferance is a web-based game of World of Warcraft.
Catharsis of Sufferance is a 3:26 minute YouTube video by Darling Violetta, released in 2005, using the theme from the TV show “Angel”.
The Hallowed Sufferance is a ceremonial knife piece of the Hallowed Protectors crafted set in Diablo III, another web-based game.
For reasons that I can't fully explain, I have subscribed to an earthquake alert program that sends me email notifications of quakes in the notorious Ring of Fire area of the globe. You can subscribe to Earthquake Notification yourself, if you're interested in receiving notices that pop up to remind you the earth is alive and changing all the time. You can register by area, seismic power, or other variables that suit your particular need to know.
Then, I heard on the radio, that there are two asteroids that are approaching an apogee flyby with earth. Most asteroids in the solar system orbit within the Saturn-Jupiter belt. Near-Earth asteroids are those whose orbits approach or cross the Earth's orbit. Accordingly, there is also, if you are curious, an asteroid watch site with startling information about the heavens we dwell within. I don't believe my curiosity is morbid, though. I think it's a good idea to reach beyond the ordinary internal landscape and consider the possibilities.
I attended an all day training on suicide prevention on Friday. Now I'm thinking about the people I've know who've committed suicide. And in particular, the artists, poets, writers. Suicide is quite a commitment. And it's quite a blessing to prevent one.
He could not ask for help. It was not poison that soured
taste when only sour milk was offered. The best moments
were only awful. Life was not salvageable. If only he had cried.
We've not forgotten him, just misremembered. He was unable
to imbibe fellowship, even when we fed him poems he himself
had written. He could not suck marrow from empty bones,
nor bear what wasn’t confessed. The visitations would never
evaporate. Like us, he had long days to live and limitless
narratives to spin. But he only ever wanted this moment to end.
If only he had heard us singing; if the wave had become a hand;
if our chorus had struck his brain waves. The best moments
were awful. He didn't cry. It was only life that was not salvageable.
It was not spoiled milk that left the sour taste when only poison
was available. Only, he could not ask for help.
from Mean Distance to the Sun, Aldrich Press 2013